Countdown to a New Year, December 24: Cat Sebastian
From December 20 through December 31, Binge on Books will be hosting a series of posts each day counting down to the new year. Joined by authors, publishers, and fellow bloggers, this series will focus on takeaways from 2017 and what we can look forward to in 2018. Think the biggest, longest, most book-filled reflection of the past year and the hopes and dreams for the new one all wrapped into one: that’s Binge on Books’ Countdown to a New Year. Come see what your favorite members of the book world have to say about the past year and what’s up next for them in the year to come!
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Cat Sebastian’s End of Year Post
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying this year has been resoundingly terrible on many levels. A bright spot has been the books. It seems like more than the usual number of stellar, inclusive, romances came out this year: Alisha Rai’s Hate to Want You. Alyssa Cole’s An Extraordinary Union. Mackenzi Lee’s The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. KJ Charles’ An Unnatural Vice. Alyssa Cole, Rose Lerner, and Courtney Milan’s Hamilton’s Battalion. Those are pretty much my favorite books this year. The thing is that they’ve all rightfully gotten a fair bit of attention and nobody needs my advice to read them (just in case: go read them). What follows are some books that might have skipped your notice but which staved off my existential dread for a few hours and made me feel hopeful about the future. (Some came out before 2017, but if I read them this year, I’m just going with it.)
I read Harper Fox’s Seven Summer Nights more times than I ought to admit (okay, it was five times. Hush.). The prose is lyrical; the characters are beautifully drawn and complete. There’s a bit of magic and a stray dog. I cried twenty million buckets of tears.
Kris Ripper’s Gays of Our Lives has a prickly character who learns that the people around him really care about him and want to help him. If “difficult loner finds community” is your catnip, you’ll probably like this book. It’s also really satisfying for me to see a disabled character get a HEA despite not being a cheerful ray of sunshine.
Romantic suspense ordinarily stresses me out, but Layla Reyne’s Whiskey & Irish trilogy was light on fear and instead wonderfully character driven and emotional. I didn’t start this series until the third book came out and then I glommed like my life depended on it.
A vital part of my self-care is reading about Sherlock Holmes; in particular I require stories about Watson and Holmes being either in love or queerplatonically happy together. To this end, I read about eleventy million words of Holmes/Watson fanfic. It isn’t a romance (at all) but Lyndsey Faye’s The Whole Art of Detection is compatible with a queerplatonic reading (the author confirmed this, so put that in your pipe and smoke it, OKAY) and I loved every minute of it. Will your life be enriched by a chapter from Holmes’ point of view in which he misses Watson and worries that Watson doesn’t have his muffler? Yes, yes it will.
Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown is the post-colonial feminist regency-set fantasy romance the world needs. It’s what I wished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell had been. It’s alternately hilarious and sad. The entire world may disagree with me, but I’m positive there’s a lowkey gay dragon shifter secondary romance in there.
Other books that have delighted and distracted me this year: Anna Zabo’s Outside the Lines (poly relationship, very satisfying, I am in love with Lydia), Jordan Hawk’s entire Hexworld series (shifters and magicians in 1890s New York but it’s actually about structural oppression; it’s tender and dark and optimistic all at once), Liz Jacobs’ Abroad, Austin Chant’s Peter Darling, and I could go on. So many good books this awful year! Happy holidays!
Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird-watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.
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